Coronavirus Updates

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Updates as of 4/23/2020
Please visit the following site for the latest on Coronavirus and pets:
www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/s0422-covid-19-cats-NYC.html

From the AVMA:
SARS-CoV-2 in pets
PETS IN HOMES WITH OWNERS WITH COVID-19
On April 22, the CDC announced the first National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL)-confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. Currently we have no information that suggests that pets might be a source of infection for people with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

To date, globally, the only pets incidentally exposed to COVID-19 that have tested positive, with confirmation, for SARS-CoV-2 are two pet dogs and a pet cat in Hong Kong, and two pet cats in in the United States. The two pet cats in the United States both had signs of mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. The pet cat in Hong Kong did not exhibit clinical signs of disease. Another pet cat in Belgium tested positive, but details around that case are less clear. The dogs and cats in Hong Kong were each in the care of and had close contact with a person who had been confirmed to have COVID-19. In the case of the cat in Belgium, other diseases and conditions that could have caused those same signs of illness were not ruled out and there are also questions about how samples demonstrating the presence of SARS-CoV-2 were collected and evaluated. That cat recovered.

Until more is known about this virus, if you are ill with COVID-19 you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. When possible, have another member of your household or business care for any animals, including pets while you are sick. If you have a service animal or you must care for your animals, including pets, wear a cloth face covering; don’t pet, share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet, service animal, or other animals. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home.

Additional guidance on managing pets in homes where people are sick with COVID-19 is available from the CDC.

KEEPING PETS SAFE
For responsible pet owners, preparing in advance is key. Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications. Usually we think about emergency kits like this in terms of what might be needed for an evacuation, but it’s also good to have one prepared in the case of quarantine or self-isolation when you cannot leave your home.

Other appropriate practices include not letting pets interact with people or other animals outside the household; keeping cats indoors, if possible, to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people; walking dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals; and avoiding dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

If you are ill with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed with a test), restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would with other people; have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick; avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

While we are recommending these as good practices, it is important to remember that there is currently no reason at this time to think that domestic animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with SARS-CoV-2. Accordingly, there is no reason to remove pets from homes where COVID-19 has been identified in members of the household, unless there is risk that the pet itself is not able to be cared for appropriately. In this emergency, pets and people each need the support of the other and veterinarians are there to support the good health of both.
Updates as of 3/12/2020
We are all deeply concerned about the Coronavirus outbreak occurring in our local as well as global environment and the effects it will have on everyone. We will try to keep you updated on current information about this virus that is related to you and your pets. We have posted some relevant information and listed some sites where you may find more information.

We are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our employees, clients, and patients. Therefore, we are following all CDC, state and local public health guidelines, NCVMA, and AVMA recommendations within our hospital so that you and our staff may stay healthy and we can continue to provide care for our patients during this difficult time.

www.veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=9548687
www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

COVID-19:
FAQs FOR PET OWNERS (FROM THE AVMA)
Updated as of 10:00 AM Central Time, Wednesday, March 12, 2020
Below are answers to some questions we have received about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. The AVMA has additional information and resources available at avma.org/Coronavirus. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.



Question:
Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) has indicated that a pet dog whose owner had contracted COVID-19 had been tested for SARS-CoV-2 and that multiple tests over several days’ time had come back “weak positive.” Do you have more information and should we be worried for our pets or for ourselves?

Answer:
The ACFD first collected samples from the pet dog, reportedly a 17-year-old Pomeranian, on February 26 and detected low levels of SARS-CoV-2 material in samples from its nasal and oral cavities on February 27. The ACFD repeated the test on February 28, March 2, and March 5 with continued “weak positive” results (nasal and oral sample, nasal sample, nasal sample, respectively). “Weak positive” suggests a small quantity of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the samples. It doesn’t distinguish whether the samples contain intact viruses, which are infectious, or only fragments of the RNA.

Real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) testing was conducted by the laboratories of the AFCD and the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong. The latter is an accredited reference laboratory for the WHO for the testing of SARS-CoV-2. The RT PCR test is sensitive, specific, and does not cross-react with other coronaviruses of dogs or cats. Testing from both laboratories yielded the same results.

Experts from the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences of the City University of Hong Kong, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) believe the consistency and persistence of the results suggest the pet dog may have a low-level of infection with the virus. While officials have said this may be a case of human-to-animal transmission, this is still speculative and further testing is being conducted.

This pet dog is one of two pet dogs currently under quarantine in separate rooms in a facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge; the second pet dog has had negative results of tests for the virus.

The pet dogs are being cared for and neither has shown any signs of being ill with COVID-19. Furthermore, infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.




Question:
Can SARS-CoV-2 infect pets?

Answer:
We do not have a clear answer to this at this time. Currently, there is no evidence that pets can become sick. Infectious disease experts, as well as the CDC, OIE, and WHO indicate there is no evidence to suggest that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection with SARS-CoV-2, including spreading COVID-19 to people. More investigation is underway and as we learn more, we will update you.

However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s a good idea to always wash your hands before and after interacting with animals.




Question:
If I am ill with COVID-19 are there special precautions I should take to prevent spreading disease, including when caring for my pet?

Answer:
If you are sick with COVID-19 you need to be careful to avoid transmitting it to other people. Applying some commonsense measures can help prevent that from happening. Stay at home except to get medical care and call ahead before visiting your doctor. Minimize your contact with other people, including separating yourself from other members of your household who are not ill; using a different bathroom, if available; and wearing a facemask when you are around other people or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. Wash your hands often, especially before touching your face and use hand sanitizer. Use a tissue if you need to cough or sneeze and dispose of that tissue in the trash. When coughing or sneezing, do so into your elbow or sleeve rather than directly at another person. Out of an abundance of caution, the AVMA recommends you take the same common-sense approach when interacting with your pets or other animals in your home, including service animals. You should tell your physician and public health official that you have a pet or other animal in your home. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. So, if you are ill with COVID-19, have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet or service animal. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. While we are recommending these as good practices, it is important to remember there is currently no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.




Question:
What should I do to prepare for my pet’s care in the event I do become ill?

Answer:
Identify another person in your household who is willing and able to care for your pet in your home should you contract COVID-19. Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications. Usually we think about emergency kits like this in terms of what might be needed for an evacuation, but it’s also good to have one prepared in the case of quarantine or self-isolation when you cannot leave your home.




Question:
My pet or service animal needs to go to the veterinarian – what should I do?

Answer:
If you are not ill with COVID-19 or another communicable disease (e.g., cold, flu), call your veterinarian to make an appointment for your pet or service animal as you normally would.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or another communicable disease, you should stay at home, minimizing contact with other people, until you are well. Accordingly, if this is a non-urgent appointment that needs to be scheduled for your pet or service animal (e.g., annual wellness examination, routine vaccination, elective surgery), you should wait to schedule that appointment until your physician and your public health official believe you no longer present a risk of transmitting your infection to other people you may encounter during such a visit, including owners of pets or other animals and veterinary clinic staff.

If you are sick with COVID-19, and you believe your pet or service animal is ill, please seek assistance from your veterinarian and public health official to determine how to best ensure your pet or service animal can be appropriately cared for while minimizing risks of transmitting COVID-19 to other people.




Question:
What should I do if my pet or service animal becomes ill after being around someone who has been sick with COVID-19?

Answer:
Talk with the public health official working with the person who is ill with COVID-19. Your public health official can then consult with a public health veterinarian who, in turn, can provide assistance to your veterinarian to ensure your pet or service animal is appropriately evaluated.

If the state public health veterinarian recommends that you take your pet or service animal to your veterinarian for an examination, please call your veterinarian in advance to let them know that you are bringing in a sick animal that has been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Advance notice will support the veterinary clinic/hospital in preparing for the proper admittance of that animal, including the preparation of an isolation area as needed. Do not take the animal to a veterinary clinic until you have consulted with the public health official and your veterinarian.




Question:
What precautions should be taken for animals that have recently been imported from high-risk areas?

Answer:
Any animals imported into the United States will need to meet CDC and USDA requirements for entering the United States. At this time there is no evidence that animals other than the bat source of SARS-CoV-2 can spread COVID-19. As with any animal introduced into a new environment, recently imported animals should be observed daily for signs of illness. If an animal becomes ill, the animal should be examined by a veterinarian. Call your veterinarian before bringing the animal into the clinic and let them know that the animal was imported from an area identified as high-risk for COVID-19.




Question:
Is testing for SARS-CoV-2 available for animals in the United States?

Answer:
No clinical testing is available as of today (3/11/2020) in the United States, but tests and testing capacity are being developed. It is possible that authorization may need to be obtained from a public health or state veterinarian prior to submission of samples. More information on test availability and requirements for submission is expected to be available shortly.

It’s important to remember that, while SARS-CoV-2 is suspected to have emerged from bats, there is currently limited evidence that other animals, including pets, can be infected with SARS-CoV-2. There is no evidence to suggest that pets can spread COVID-19 to other people or other pets.
Updates as of 12/21/2020
COVID-19 information for pet owners from the CDC:
  • At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to people. Based on the limited data available, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by the virus and the role animals may play in the spread of COVID-19.
  • We are still learning about this virus, and it appears that in some situations, people can spread the virus to animals.
  • If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would with people.
    • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
    • Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, sharing food, or sleeping in the same bed.
    • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them and wear a mask.
  • Until we know more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other family members to prevent them from getting infected.
    • Although we know certain bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets. Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners.
    • Do not let pets interact with people outside your household.
    • Walk dogs on a leash at least 6 feet away from others.
    • Avoid public places where large numbers of people gather.
    • Do not put masks on pets. Covering a pet’s face could harm them.
    • Keep cats indoors when possible and do not let them roam freely outside.
  • Because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
    • Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
    • Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
    • Visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website for more information on keeping animals and people safe and healthy.
  • At this time, routine testing of animals for this new coronavirus is not recommended.